Thankful is the Heart
Fandom: Angel the Series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Post Series
Warnings: Slash, Established Relationship, Souled! Spike, Fluff!
Summary: Spike has undecipherable feelings, and they’re tearing him apart.
Word Count: 1637
Thankful is the Heart
“The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude.”
― Thornton Wilder
So, I’d gotten the turkey, dressing, (not out of a box, I made the bloody bread crumbs from scratch) all cooked, and out on the counter, but my undead heart nearly started and stopped again when the love of my life blurted the chill-inducing words, “But what about the pumpkin pie?”
Pumpkin— I’d forgotten--- oh, wait!
“Bloody hell!” My hand was suddenly clutching at a wet, slimy mess. It had reflexively closed into a fist; I’d forgotten I was holding a can of some sort of disgusting jellified cranberries. Blood red, sticky sweetness all over my hand, the kitchen floor, my jeans.
“Spike? “, my lovely partner asked, hesitantly.
I turned to face the hulking ninny. The scathing words in my mouth died there. Nevertheless, I muttered, “Was your job, Ponce.” I could feel a full on rant with the possibility of a couple of buckets of spilt blood coming on. Pressure built up behind my eyes. This whole thing; Thanksgiving dinner for us, for the Scoobies-- meant far too much for the likes of me, once the Big Bad—now, I’d become a bigger poufter than Peaches.
Said poufter was smirking. At me! I glared at him. He gave me an innocent look.
In his hands, he cradled a whipped cream-topped monstrosity of a pumpkin pie. He grinned, this time sheepishly, and it’s not a good look on him.
“Just kidding, Spike.” The grin faltered. I think he knew that he was seconds from a lovely beating.
I looked at him. Then my hand. The mess on the floor was getting bigger, spreading like blood all over the white linoleum. I gave him a death stare, but I knew The Beatings would have to wait, no time.
Oh, god—the time! Only a few hours before dinner—
Why was I so panicked over this? Pathetic.
It was all going to go wrong, I could feel it.
“Spike?” Angel asked, puzzled. “Hey—“
“It’s all going to shit.” I found myself muttering, and snapped my mouth shut.
Angel placed the pie on the kitchen counter, already laden with way too much food. “Spike. Relax, it’ll be fine.” He came closer, taking me by the hand that wasn’t covered in goo—leading me to the sink. “Sorry about the ..err.. cranberry ..sauce. Come here.”
He ran warm water, gently washing off the stuff that I wouldn’t condescend to call “cranberry sauce.” I felt like bugs were crawling under my skin, too much energy—too much—something. I yanked my hand out from under the stream of water after my hand was clean, grabbing a dishrag to roughly dry it with. “Wanker, “ I said flatly, “ you’re the one running out to the store for more of that shite.” I swiped the rag over my jeans, and then the floor. “ Was the last we had.” Sighing, I dropped the rag into the sink.
“Well, the only reason we’re using that sorry excuse for food instead of the real thing, is that Harris specifically requested it.” Angel was trying to pacify me, now. It wasn’t going to work. Really, it wasn’t.
“Hey, you.” He came closer, laying a hand alongside my cheek. “Why so nervous?”
Dammit. Why couldn’t I just enjoy this?
Inside, I was a mess. I was as close to tears as I could get—but here’s the funny thing. It wasn’t sadness, or anger—it was something else. It was overwhelming. To cover, I whirled round and stomped my way into the living room, pausing to rip (carefully) the apron which read “Bite the Cook”, from round my waist.
‘Spike?” Angel, close behind, me sounded worried.
I miserably flung myself down on the plush leather couch. I stared into the flames in the huge, ornate fireplace, not moving when I felt Angel sit next to me. He pulled my still slightly damp hand into his own and just held it.
“What’s wrong?” He asked, softly.
I had to think out it. Sort out all the conflicting emotions in my head, try to come up with an answer that made any kind of sense. But thinkin’s not usually my style. I’ve gotten better about it since I got the soul, but—not ever been much for introspection, me. But, maybe it was time to try.
Angel was patient with me, I’ll give him that. He’s changed, too, since the big brouhaha with Wolfram and Hart, since losing Connor, Wesley Gunn, Fred—
-- And now, here we were, comfortably settled in a huge old mansion on the outskirts of London, keeping house together…like lovers. Lovers like we hadn’t been in a hundred years.
Well, we’d never been lovers like this.
I sighed, needing to relax, and looked at him, really looked at him. All I could see in his eyes was patience, concern…love. I leaned into him and felt his arms hug me closer.
“We—we lost so much. “ I whispered, almost afraid to say it out loud. “And now, we’re doing this—Thanksgiving; not even our sodding holiday, is it? Doing it for family. We’ve not had that for so long—“
Angel kissed the top of my head, but didn’t say anything. But I felt comforted by it. I closed my eyes. Tired. I wanted to rest. Never any bloody time.
“Now we’ve got the whole bloody Scooby gang comin’ over here…and I feel…terrified.”
“Terrified?” Angel asked. “Why?”
I took my time before answering, wanting to get it right. I needed to tell him the truth. Angel sat quietly, letting me have the space.
“I’m afraid that we’ll lose it all again.” I said slowly. “That if we’re happy—if we let anyone in on that happiness—that God will take it away from us again. I can’t lose you. I can’t lose us.”
Angel didn’t say anything, but took my hand in his, turning it over. He kissed the palm, and I felt a tiny frisson of need for him, for this. This closeness. It took me a while to speak, because I felt as if I would simply burst from the upwelling of emotion rising in my chest. I felt full, full of love.
“ Us, entertainin’ the Scoobies, it means something.” We’re doin’ it together. As-- as a couple. Partners. And the white hats know about all about us, and they accepted it. It’s never been so good, not for either of us. I keep waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop.”
Angel looked at me from beneath his lashes, considering. His hand on mine tightened, became possessive. “You’ll never lose me, Spike. Not unless I dust. I promise you. We’re together. Trust that.” The force of his conviction hardened his tone.
I knew that he meant it.
My throat felt rusty , and my eyes burned hot; the tears I’d been holding back threatened to fall. I swallowed them back down, ruthlessly. But I didn’t dare speak. It would all come out—all those huge feelings I’d been stomping on, beating them down, until I choked on them. Like I was choking on them now. I didn’t need to breathe, and that was a good thing—I was so wound up with love and terror and want and need-- that I would never have been able to get any air—there’s wasn’t room for it. I shook with it, and tried to bury my face in my hands. Angel stopped me, grabbing both my hands and bringing them up to rest alongside his face.
“Look at me.” Angel said quietly.
“Look at me, baby.”
Slowly, I looked up to meet his eyes, and blinked in wonderment. His eyes shone brightly through a sheen of tears, but a wobbly smile belied it; this was joy, not pain.
“I have something for you.” He let go of my hands, standing hastily to dig around in his pants pocket. Drawing a small green velveteen pouch from it, he sank slowly to his knees in front of me. I could feel my eyebrows climbing into my hair. What was all this?
“Angel! “I spluttered, completely flummoxed, “What’re you on about?”
He looked up at me with that earnest Petey-Pureheart look, eyes all ablaze with love, no denying that; and this time, it was for me! He pulled the drawstring on the tiny bag, and pulled out something small and glittering gold in the firelight. My mouth dropped open. Surely not—
I barely felt it as he took my left hand, and slid a beautiful golden ring onto my finger. I couldn’t speak.
“I’d ask you, Spike—“Angel said, “--if you would marry me. But we’re demons. We’re outside human reality. “So, I’m telling you. We’re forever. I’m yours, as long as you want me.” He gave me a smoldering look, paired with a soft smile. “So you see? Nothing can tear us apart. Nothing. So all those feelings? They’re good, Spike. Don’t smother them. Don’t hide them. Let them out. Share them with me.”
Something loosened up in me. I opened my mouth to speak, and nothing came out. Tried again, and this time the one word came to mind that described that deluge of emotion that had threatened to drown me. “Grateful. So grateful…for a second chance.”
The tears began to flow. But this time, for the first time in my very long life, I wept tears of pure happiness.
Sound sappy? Suppose it is.
But I’m thankful all the same.
Have a Vampy Thanksgiving!